Cut Those Cocktail Calories in Half!

frozen margarita's are notWe all know that summer marks the beginning of an endless season of barbecues, outdoor cocktail parties, and weekend vacation getaways where the food is always in abundance and the drinks never stop flowing. You want to get through these hot months without ruining the bikini bod that you’ve been working on all winter, but you also want to enjoy your social life and not be that girl who brings her own carrots and hummus in a little plastic baggie to the party.

There ARE ways to partake in all the festivities while being health conscious, and it only takes a little thought.

High Calorie Drinks vs. Low Calorie Drinks
There are some cocktails that you just have to stay away from if you’re dieting or trying to maintain your weight. Anything with the word “daiquiri” in it is guaranteed to be packed with calories, and this goes for pina coladas (387 calories for just 6 ounces) and thick fruity margaritas (almost 400 calories for 8 ounces), as well. Those slushy coffee-liquor drinks that resemble Starbucks frappucinos (hello, Britney Spears‘s fat phase) should be totally off limits, as only 3 ounces of coffee liquor clocks in at 348 calories.

Instead, stick to champagne (the lowest calorie choice, and even more fun when you add some OJ for a morning mimosa), low-calorie beer (I’m loving the 98-calorie Michelob Ultra right now), or a small glass of sparkling wine. Bloody Mary’s are fun too, if you’re starting the beach drinking early (or taking an airplane to your fabulous vacation destination). And remember: the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calorie-count.

The Sugar Problem
Substituting artificial sweeteners, lemon juice, or diet soda for regular sugar can cut your cocktail calories in half. Heat up your barbecues with mojitos made with diet fresca (a grapefruit flavored soda with zero calories) instead of club soda, and substitute Splenda for white sugar. If you refuse to give up on your frozen margaritas, try mixing tequila with low-calorie crystal light lemonade (it comes in flavors like peach, lemon and raspberry) and then adding Sprite zero so you don’t miss out on the bubbly. With this pared-down margarita, you can feel better about enjoying those nachos. Maybe.

Water is Your Friend
We can all agree that it’s almost impossible to attend a cocktail party and pass on the wine. Luckily, wine spritzers have become really popular and couldn’t be easier to make. Mix four ounces of a white wine (dry wines usually have lower calorie counts) with four ounces of a sparkling water (or club soda if Pellegrino’s not your thing). The benefit off adding a little H20 to your drink is twofold — in addition to helping you stay slim, it will keep you hydrated so that your beach day isn’t ruined by a whopping hangover.

I often turn to Fitness Magazine for great recipes, and this month they have a great Sangria Suggestion:

1 bottle dry red wine
1 cup light orange juice
¼ cup brandy or cognac
¼ cup orange liqueur
2 tablespoons sugar
2 medium oranges, sliced
2 cups club soda, chilled
Crushed ice and/or orange peel curls (optional)

Mix wine, OJ, brandy, orange liqueur, sugar, and orange slices in a large pitcher. Chill for at least two hours, and add club soda before serving. Serve over crushed ice and a few orange peel curls. Only 100 calories per serving, makes 12 servings in all.

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